There has never been a better time for deer hunting in Kentucky.
“The chances of taking a nice buck in Kentucky are as good now as they’ve ever been,” says Tina Brunjes, big game coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “The deer are getting enough groceries to grow big.”
Kentucky’s deer herd numbers an estimated 900,000, the highest in modern times. Last year’s heavy nut production in the state’s forests gave deer plenty to eat during breeding season. There are numerous reports of a higher than usual number of deer with twins and even triplets.
“We had a high rate of fawn survival this year, and the spring rains gave them plenty of cover,” says senior deer biologist David Yancy. “There should be plenty of deer over most of the state.”
The highest concentrations of deer live in the triangle bordered by Covington, Louisville, and Lexington. This is the region to hunt if getting food for the table is a priority.
For trophy animals, Butler, Ohio, Muhlenberg, Grayson, Hopkins, and Breckinridge counties in western Kentucky still form the “Trophy Belt” for deer. Yancy says this could be an excellent year for trophy bucks. Not only was deer harvest down 12 percent last year, the number of trophy deer dropped, too. “In theory, that means more trophy-class bucks made it through the year and got another year older—and bigger,” he says.
The heavy acorn drop last year likely played a role in the decline of the deer harvest. Instead of roaming great distances for food, deer probably stayed tighter to the oak groves and out of sight of hunters.
This year, Yancy suggests hunting oak groves. Otherwise, try field edges, especially near corn or soybean fields.
Modern gun season starts November 11 in Kentucky.
Veterans or new hunters can learn more about field dressing and processing deer through a special video offered by Kentucky Afield television. Scott County butcher Sim Harp reveals tips and shortcuts to save time and how to do it right. Purchase your own DVD copy of this popular show online at www.fw.ky.gov.